by Jake Johnson, staff writer
'Landslide Victory' for Climate as G20 Leaders (Minus Trump) Affirm Paris Accord
"Donald Trump is learning the hard way that he cannot thwart the entire world on climate change and expect to continue with business as usual."
Following contentious negotiations that extended into the final day of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, 19 of the 20 world leaders present—the one outlier being U.S. President Donald Trump—affirmed in a statement (pdf) on Saturday their "strong commitment" to combating climate change and called the guidelines laid out in the Paris climate accord "irreversible."
"Trump's historically irresponsible decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement has left the U.S. isolated on the world stage."
—Michael Brune, Sierra Club
In addition, the official communique included language acknowledging Trump's decision last month to withdraw the the U.S. from the Paris agreement—a move that was widely denounced as "stupid and reckless."
"The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs," the document reads.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference that she "deplored" Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord, adding: "I think it's very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated."
"It's absolutely clear it is not a common position," Merkel said of Trump's view of the Paris agreement. The U.S., Syria, and Nicaragua are the only countries in the world that have rejected the accord.
Environmental groups and climate activists celebrated the world leaders' reaffirmation of their commitment to fighting climate change and hailed the communique as a step in the right direction.
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, called the final statement "a landslide victory for countries voicing support for global climate action."
"Donald Trump is learning the hard way that he cannot thwart the entire world on climate change and expect to continue with business as usual," added Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.
Trump's historically irresponsible decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement has left the U.S. isolated on the world stage. The other 19 leaders of the world's largest economies stood shoulder to shoulder in unified support for the Paris Agreement. Given the choice between following Trump or standing strong for climate action, not a single world leader decided to back him. That's unprecedented, and it shows how deeply unpopular and misguided Trump's attack on the Paris Agreement has been, and how much damage it has done to U.S. credibility and standing in the world.
Christian Aid's international climate lead Mohamed Adow slammed Trump for keeping "his head buried in the sand."
"The U.S. president's weak attempts to capsize the climate movement have failed: he is now marooned on a political island of his own making," Adow concluded. "Meanwhile the rest of the world is moving ahead."
But while they applauded world leaders for coming together to assert the necessity of fighting climate change, environmentalists were quick to emphasize that the Paris accord "is not enough." As Oil Change International senior campaigner Alex Doukas put it, "talk is cheap."
"The G19 should have committed to accelerate the transformation away from coal, oil, and gas," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, in a statement. "If Paris was the starting point, Hamburg must sow the seeds of much greater ambition."
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